Shin'en Multimedia seem to wield some sort of superpower when it comes to pulling perfect performance out of the Switch. Fast RMX, Its superb Wipeout-style future racer – which helped fill a gap in the console's launch when Mario Kart 8 Deluxe arrived late – was, and still is, a dazzlingly handsome beast that runs at a super-smooth 60fps and locked 1080p/720p framerate in docked and handheld modes respectively. The Touryst manages to pull off the exact same magic, with a beautiful toybox look heavily reminiscent of this year's Link's Awakening remake; it employs gorgeous voxel and bokeh effects to give its island-hopping adventure a wonderful sense of style, all whilst performing at a flawless 60fps and that same locked-down 1080/720p resolution. Of course, if the game itself isn't up to much all this technological hotness is for nought, and so it's a good thing that The Touryst is one of the freshest, most entertaining surprises of the year on Nintendo's console.
There's a plot lurking somewhere in the background of The Touryst. Your blocky, moustachioed little avatar arrives on Touryst Island and, after a little stumbling around and exploring, finds himself inside the TOWA Monument where he meets an old man who tells him he must find four monument cores in order to reveal the world's secrets. And that's about it. Within minutes you've been let off the leash and you're free to go searching and puzzling your way across the group of islands that make up this beautiful little world. Access to these island playgrounds is granted via travel brochures, the vast majority of which can be purchased from a holiday dealer, although you'll have to search high and low for messages in bottles bobbing in the sea in order to see everything that's on offer here.
The islands themselves are fun little recreations of real-life locations. You've got the hedonistic, beach party setting of Ybiza (complete with blocky little revellers largin' it on the dancefloor and passed out on deckchairs), the dark volcanic sands of Fijy and the drum-beating hula-surf paradise of Hawayy. There's Santoryn – with its stark white Greek-style houses and smartly-attired jazz lounges – and Leysure Island, the tacky tourist heart of the locations on offer.
As you island-hop your way around this exquisite little world in search of the four monuments which contain the cores you need to complete your main quest – and try to figure out exactly how to gain access to the puzzles within them – you'll be kept busy with a dazzling array of excellent minigames. There's a truly fantastic sense of variety on show here and Shin'en has managed to avoid the pitfall of annoying side quests by ensuring all of these activities are genuinely fun, employ a handful of new gameplay mechanics to keep things interesting and never outstaying their welcome.
Over the course of your eight-to-ten-hour adventure here, you'll indulge in some soccer practice with a hard-headed coach, go spelunking down a dangerous mineshaft, take part in a surfing competition, try your hand at scuba-diving and find co-ordinates which enable you to take sweet helicopter rides. You'll take themed photographs for a local art dealer, collect rare manuscripts for a museum and take part in a fun drum rhythm game with some locals down on the shore in Hawayy.
There really is a feast of activities to engage in here as you stumble your way across these beautiful little voxel islands and the whole thing turns into a much more fleshed-out adventure than we'd anticipated in the opening hour or so. As you make your way around you'll also collect coins and diamonds which can be spent on a handful of new moves – a double-jump and a sprint which doubles as a wall-smashing attack – to open up new areas and give you access to previously unreachable goodies, and you'll also spend that hard-earned cash buying records for a stressed-out Ybiza DJ as well as spending time trying to beat Bob's high scores in the retro arcade on Leysure Island. Indeed, the arcade here sports three excellent retro games, one of which is a delightful recreation of the developer's very own Fast RMX. We spent a good hour in this one location trying to best Bob's high scores and it's a perfect example of the thought and effort that's been put into every facet of this charming little game.
Once inside of the mysterious monuments themselves, you'll indulge in some cleverly-designed and beautifully atmospheric puzzles in order to get your hands on each of the four cores you'll need to complete your mission. The variety in the puzzles on offer here is impressive and they all require a decent amount of lateral thinking initially; although there's nothing that could be described as particularly difficult, they all control wonderfully well, apart from one sphere-hopping scenario that tested our patience slightly with its over-exacting nature. Still, they don't outstay their welcome and Shin'en is well aware that the delights of island-hopping are calling, so you're not kept locked down inside these cavernous creations for very long.
In terms of performance, as we mentioned, this game runs flawlessly; we didn't notice a single flicker from 60fps in either handheld or docked modes and the whole thing is beautiful to behold – we'd say even besting Link's Awakening in terms of how it manages to bring its delightful little toybox to life without any of the framerate issues encountered with that title. There's a wonderful chiptune soundtrack backing the whole thing up and this is added to by collecting the five or six records you can pick up at the music store on Leysure Island, with some proper Ibiza party tracks and even a neat little chiptune version of the Fast RMX soundtrack to keep you bopping along as you bounce, swim, dive, surf and puzzle your way to the end of this delightful little adventure.
The Touryst is a joyous little adventure that sinks its blocky little hooks into you and doesn't let go until it's done. It's got a perfect balance of atmospheric puzzling, leisurely exploring and minigame madness that'll keep you thoroughly entertained from start to finish, and its collection of tiny little voxel islands are a joy to discover, bursting with surprises to uncover and presented in a truly dazzling art-style that's achieved whilst performing flawlessly on Nintendo's console. The puzzles might not be the most taxing you'll ever come across and you'll blow through the whole thing pretty quickly, but overall this is a top-notch – and perfectly priced – little gem.